The federal government has kept busy this summer by issuing multiple regulations impacting government contractors’ cybersecurity.  First, the Department of Defense released the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included notable cybersecurity provisions involving foreign ownership and Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI), among others.  Second, Congress passed the NIST Small Business Cybersecurity Act requiring the

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) is hosting a cybersecurity workshop on the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation System (“DFARS”) Safeguarding Clause and related regulations on Thursday, October 18, 2018.  The workshop, in coordination with the Department of Defense (“DoD”) and the National Archives and Records Administration (“NARA”), will provide an overview of Controlled

Article 31 Committee approves Privacy Shield; House Cuts FCC Funding Over Attempted Broadband Privacy Regulations; No Charges for Clinton in Data Security Probe; European Commission launches public-privacy partnership on cybersecurity; European Parliament adopts NIS Directive; Privacy Code of Conduct for mHealth app providers finalized; French parliament about to make French Privacy act more severe; Russia introduces new data retention obligations.

Article 31 Committee approves Privacy Shield

On July 8, 2016, the Article 31 Committee has finally given its support for the adoption of the “EU-U.S. Privacy Shield”, the new framework for cross-Atlantic data transfers.

For more details, please see our latest client alert here.

House Defunds FCC’s Data Privacy Efforts for Broadband Providers

On July 7, the House of Representatives voted to cut off funding for the FCC’s proposed privacy regulations of broadband service providers. The measure, attached as an amendment to the 2017 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill, cut the FCC’s funding by more than 17%. Calling the FCC’s proposed rules “extreme,” Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the amendment’s author, claimed the measure was necessary to reassert the Federal Trade Commission’s status as the go-to federal data privacy regulator. The FCC, Rep. Blackburn asserted, “simply doesn’t have the requisite technical expertise to regulate privacy.”

The proposed regulations, which the FCC announced in March 2016, would require ISPs to disclose how data regarding customers’ online activities could be collected and recorded. These proposed rules represented the FCC’s first major attempt to regulate broadband providers in the aftermath of the agency’s February 2015 decision to treat broadband as a public utility. Several broadband providers had expressed public reservations about the FCC’s proposed rulemaking and actively lobbied legislators to act. The bill, which passed in a 239-185 vote, next heads to the Senate for consideration.


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Adoption of Privacy Shield expected in early July; Federal Court limits VPPA liability; Belgian Court overturns Facebook fine; FTC robocall crackdown; A rare HIPAA criminal conviction; UK’s ICO fines Brexit campaigners for mass text messages; House report calls for national encryption commission.

European Commission expects adoption of Privacy Shield for beginning of July

European officials are hoping to finally formalize the “EU-U.S. Privacy Shield”, the cross-Atlantic data transfer pact aiming at replacing the formerly invalidated “U.S.-EU Safe Harbor” Framework, on July 5. The initial draft agreement has been amended to include new explanations of U.S. governmental entities and further limitations on the bulk collection of data and mass surveillance. The European Commission is now confident that also the Article 31 Committee will give its approval to the draft framework.

Many European Privacy regulators and EU bodies, such as the European Parliament and the European Data Protection Supervisor, had argued that the initial draft did not sufficiently protect the fundamental rights of European data subjects. The revised version now “only” allows bulk collection “exceptionally”, where targeted collection is “not feasible”, although it remains open how ‘feasibility’ should be determined.


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EU-U.S. Agreement on Law Enforcement Data; European Data Protection Supervisor Criticizes Privacy Shield; House Members Criticize FCC Privacy Proposal; NHTSA Targets Automotive Cybersecurity; Yahoo Releases National Security Letters; CareFirst Data Breach Lawsuit Dismissed; FDA Guidance on Data Protection in Investigations

EU and U.S. sign Umbrella Agreement on Law Enforcement Data

On June 2, 2016, Vera Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice and Consumer Protection, Dutch minister Ard van der Steur and U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch signed the “Umbrella Agreement”, a deal between the U.S. and the EU “on the protection of personal information relating to the prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of criminal offenses”. The agreement aims at enhancing the cooperation of the EU and the U.S. in criminal enforcement (including terrorism), while at the same time protecting personal data of European citizens, when transferred from the EU to the U.S. for criminal investigations.

The text of the agreement, which was negotiated over a long period due in part to a Court of Justice of the EU (ECJ) finding that European citizens lacked adequate rights of redress, includes provisions on purpose limitation, information security, data retention, rights of data subjects, breach notifications and onward transfers. A “fact sheet”-FAQ is available on the Commission’s website. Before the agreement can be finally concluded, the European Parliament will still need to give its consent.

European Data Protection Supervisor criticizes “EU-U.S. Privacy Shield”

On May 30, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), Giovanni Buttarelli, issued an opinion on the draft “EU-U.S. Privacy Shield (“Privacy Shield”), which is in line with the criticism previously raised by the Article 29 Working Party and the European Parliament.


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Data Breach Liability Requires Actual Misuse; More U.S.-EU Data Transfer Uncertainty; Airline App Exempt from State Privacy Law; Pending Cyber Bill Would Create Consortium; Encryption-Related Deceptive Advertising Settlement; PayPal Fined for Deceptive Trade Practices

The Spokeo effect: data breach claims require actual examples of information misuse

Last week, a federal court dismissed claims alleging harm from a hospital data breach, on the grounds that the plaintiff failed to allege more than the mere threat of injury.  In Khan v. Children’s National Health System, No. 8:15-cv-2125 (D. Md.), the plaintiff alleged that phishing attacks compromised hospital employees’ email accounts containing patient information, including social security numbers, addresses, dates of birth, and other private healthcare information.  The court held that the plaintiff lacked standing and could not proceed in federal court because the plaintiff failed to allege either specific instances of misuse from the particular breach at issue or “a clear indication that the data breach was for the purpose of using the plaintiffs’ personal data to engage in identity fraud.”

The court’s reasoning also demonstrates the favorable impact that this month’s Supreme Court decision in Spokeo v. Robbins may have for defendants in data breach actions.  The Khan opinion explained that mere violation of a statute does not necessarily create the “concrete harm,” such as actual misuse of information, required by Spokeo.  Although it remains to be seen what the Ninth Circuit does with Spokeo on remand and how Spokeo will impact future cases, it seems likely that federal courts will continue to be inclined to disfavor claims where the harm alleged is the “diminished value” of personal information, a general loss of privacy, or simply a technical statutory violation.


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The Panama Papers Leak – An overview on histories’ biggest data leak; Article 29 Working Party about to release opinion on EU-U.S. Privacy Shield; EU: GDPR and PCJ DPD about to be approved next week – final consolidated text published by Council; US: New HIPAA Audit Protocol Released as a Guidance Tool for phase two of Compliance Audits; U.S. Sneak News: Defend Trade Secrets Act, NPRM and Sony Settlement Approval. EU: GDPR, PCJ DPD and PNR Directive adoped by Parliament; U.S.: House Judiciary Committee approves E-Mail Privacy Act; Senate to require airlines to report cyberattacks; FTC issues online tool identifying applicable law for health apps; Global: Turkey releases first comprehensive Data Protection law; Connected cars found vulnerable for cyberattacks; Data Breaches May Waive Attorney-Client Privilege?; Encryption Continues to Dominate Privacy Headlines; Hospital Settles with HHS for $ 2.2 Million in HIPAA Action; Southern District of New York Adds Ransomware Conspirator to Hacking Case; European and Canadian Data Protection Authorities Investigate IoT Devices; Norway Requires Data Breach Notification for Individuals

The Panama Papers Leak – An overview on histories’ biggest data leak

On April 3, 2016, reports revealed that a set of 11.5 million confidential documents (“the Panama Papers”), providing detailed information about more than 200,000 offshore companies connected to Panamanian legal service provider Mossack Fonseca, had been made available to German Daily Newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung by an anonymous source in 2015.

The documents, which form part of the biggest data leak in history, reveal aspects on (potential) exploitations of offshore tax regimes and other illegal purposes, such as fraud or drug trafficking. Among the people concerned are not only big companies, but also twelve national leaders among 143 politicians, celebrities, government officials or other law firms. The Süddeutsche Zeitung, given the scope of the leak, involved the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and about 400 other journalists in 76 different countries to investigate and analyze the documents. ICIJ has promised to publish a full list of companies involved in early May 2016.

Mossack Fonseca, the leaked firm, defended its commercial conduct, stating that itself would always comply with applicable laws and carry out thorough due diligence on its clients. However, the leak will have a huge impact on the offshore business, as the biggest selling point of this business, secrecy, has been massively cracked.


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Yesterday, Crowell & Moring hosted an International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) KnowledgeNet featuring the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) new Chief Technologist, Lorrie Cranor.

In her short time at the FTC, Cranor has already made waves by encouraging companies to rethink mandatory password changes.  At the event, Cranor spoke about the focus of her

Uncertainty surrounding the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor (Safe Harbor) replacement, the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield (Privacy Shield), will remain for now. On April 13, 2016 the European Union (EU) Article 29 Working Party (WP29) comprised of all 28 EU member state data protection authorities (DPAs) announced its official but non-binding opinion on the European Commission’s (EC) draft

OCR Announces a Settlement … Again; HHS Eases Restrictions on Mental Health Information Sharing to Facilitate Gun Control Efforts; Facebook: Users Lack Standing in Cookie MDL; Plaintiffs Argue for Summary Judgment in $5 Million Twitter TCPA Suit

OCR Announces a Settlement … Again

For the second time this week, OCR announced another huge settlement. The